Sen. Martin Heinrich and expert panel conclude that we need to transition to clean energy in our homes
BOSTON – Environment America and U.S. PIRG hosted a webinar Wednesday, which featured opening words from Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and a panel of home electrification experts discussing the benefits and process of switching to clean electric technologies. The event covered what it means to get fossil fuels out of our houses and explained how Americans can support home electrification in their communities and what steps individual households can take to create clean energy homes.
To build a future that runs on 100% renewable energy and reduce climate change-causing emissions, outdated fossil fuel technologies must be replaced with efficient electric alternatives. Sen. Heinrich recorded opening comments about the importance of transitioning to all-electric homes.
“There are substantially better, safer and cleaner electric alternatives for each of the fossil-fuel burning machines in our homes,” saidSen. Heinrich. “Each of these electric substitutes can help reduce our climate pollution, improve our health and create significant savings on our energy bills.”
Following the senator’s remarks, the panelists spoke about their personal experiences in switching to electric technologies. They highlighted the challenges that homeowners can face and how we can solve them by working with our communities, professionals and decision makers.
U.S. PIRG’s Environment Campaigns Director Matt Casale started electrifying his home by replacing his stove with an electric one.
“Knowing that children are particularly vulnerable to the health impacts from indoor air pollution associated with cooking with gas, it was important to us that with two young kids, the first thing we did was make sure we got a stove that reduces the pollutants we are putting into our home,” Casale said.
Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, said that the biggest challenge to widespread electrification in our homes is the upfront cost. She emphasized the importance of rebates and incentives to make electrification more accessible.
“When I think back to buying our heat pump hot water heater, that $750 rebate from Mass Save that was right at the point of sale made it a no-brainer for us,” Neumann said. “The more that rebates for these technologies can be upfront, direct pay and at the point of purchase, rather than through some cumbersome and opaque process, the better it is going to be.”
Christopher Matos-Rogers, founder of the sustainability-focused real estate team Matos-Rogers Group, spoke about the role that professionals such as contractors and realtors can play in the transition to clean energy homes.
“Real estate agents are the original influencer,” Matos-Rogers said. “If you’ve had a really great real estate agent, you know that they are the ones that even after the sale you go to and you ask for referrals to vendors. You ask about renovation and what we are going to do to your resale value. They are ambassadors for your community.”
Julia Pyper, vice president of communications and policy at GoodLeap LLC., works with the home appraiser community and touched on how we should start factoring in clean energy home investments into home values.
“This technology works,” Pyper said. “People will pay for it. We are at the dawn of a new era, and hopefully that starts to be reflected in home values appropriately.”
Joel Rosenberg, author of Rewiring America’s “Electrify Everything in Your Home” guide, emphasized that everyone can start going all-electric today by taking a simple first step: making a plan for replacing your non-electric appliances.
“When your hot water heater dies, you just want hot water again, you don’t care if it is electric or not,” said Joel Rosenberg. “But if you go and call the contractor and nobody has a heat pump water heater, or they do have one and your electrical panel is too small, so you can’t get one, you are going to lock in another 10-15 of fossil fuel burning in your home.”
The webinar ended with each panelist offering one tip that everyone can do today to help advance clean energy homes, included emailing your Senator to urge them to support the Zero Emission Homes Act.